Turning your garden into a sustainable oasis where animals, plants, and people all feel equally at home isn’t all that difficult.
A garden expert reveals how to conserve natural resources in the garden and attract as many animal inhabitants as possible.
Insect Mortality Has Startled Many People
The term “sustainability” originally comes from forestry: only as much wood may be used as can grow back. The concept doesn’t translate easily to a garden. “A garden is not a nature reserve,” says Melanie Konrad, NABU garden expert and graduate engineer for landscape and open space planning. “Gardeners design it according to their wishes, to spend their leisure time in it or to grow ornamental plants and fruit and vegetables.
But gardens are also habitats for plants and animals. That’s why we should preserve it as a natural habitat and work with nature in it, not against it.” According to her, many species and ecosystems are doing badly. This has been made clear, for example, by insect mortality – citizens’ petitions to save the bees, for example, have brought the problem to the attention of many people. “It’s important that animals like insects and birds have a habitat in gardens, too,” Konrad says. “Animals migrate into our settlements – for example, the blackbird, which is originally a forest bird. Our gardens are important oases for them. The more diverse and natural they are, the better.”
Conserving Natural Resources In The Garden
For Konrad, sustainability in the garden starts with the lawn. “A short-shorn lush green lawn is not sustainable, ” she says. “Resources have to be constantly put into it: It has to be mowed regularly, watered and fertilized during drought, and the results don’t last long on their own.”
Better, she says, is a flower lawn mix, for example. In addition to grasses, this also contains flowering wild perennials and herbs that provide pollen and nectar. It can also be walked on, requires less maintenance, and adapts better to climatic conditions.
How To Save Energy Costs
Another alternative: a flower meadow. “I only have to mow this once or twice a year, I have less work and can enjoy the flowers and the insects.”
Regional and reused materials save resources, transportation, and energy costs. According to Konrad, shrubbery cuttings can be used, for example, for a brushwood pile or a Benjes hedge made of dead wood, garden and kitchen waste for compost, old bricks for a seating area, and an old zinc bathtub as a planter. “It also gives the garden a personal touch,” she says.
Encourage Soil Life Instead Of Constantly Fertilizing
Owners can also make some changes toward sustainability when dealing with the garden’s soil. “Soil stores water and CO2 provides nutrients for plants and is a habitat for countless organisms. In one’s garden, one should do without pesticides and artificial fertilizers and better strengthen the soil life. This does not endanger living organisms or groundwater and at the same time promotes a good soil structure and the build-up of humus,” says the expert.